It’s that time of year again. When my phone rings with calls from what feels like 100 family members, asking what I want for Christmas. And this year, I have a very different answer.
I am so appreciative of the things, material and not, that I have. A wonderful family, an awesome internship, and the opportunity to get an education at Rowan University. This year, I am spending the holidays giving back to my community, using the skills I’ve learned in my major. And you can too! Here are the ways five majors can give back this holiday season, using the skills they’ve learned in class:
As a PR major, one particularly fun part of my coursework is in special events. And like any good PR major, I like to get in my practice by hosting events throughout the year, whether through internships, by volunteering in my community, or just with friend for fun.
Each year, I throw a holiday party where all of my best friends gather, enjoy a diverse mix of food, and exchange gifts “Secret Santa” style. After years of hosting, I have realized two important things. 1. All of my college-aged friends who attend gift the same menagerie of nail polish, hair products, and Twilight Woods from Bath and Body Works. And 2. No one really needs any of it. So the idea hit me. What if, instead, we could use those gifts to help women who really are in need? What if we could brighten the day of a teenage mother or woman left homeless?
Thankfully my friends enjoy my do-good tendencies and are on board. This year we will donate a large basket to Mothers Matter, a local charity that helps women cope with homelessness, illiteracy and unemployment.
Speaking of Mothers Matter, we live in a mecca of organizations doing great, charitable work. Much of this works involves disadvantaged populations, including the elderly, children or those with special needs. Psych and Soc majors, with their classes emphasizing positive social interaction and the challenges of learning, are well suited to volunteer their services to these types of organizations. Interested in working with military families? Try Champions of Freedom. The Gloucester County Boys and Girls Club is always in need of volunteers for those who want to serve the needs of local children. Partner with an organization you are passionate about, or check out the Rowan University Office of Service-Learning, Volunteerism & Community Engagement.
My friends who are finance majors are some of the most meticulous, well-budgeted people I know. They’re great with numbers and can really make pocket change add up. That’s why I think they would be awesome at maximizing donations to a cause. I know a lot of college students don’t think they have the money to donate, but there are ways to do it without even trying.
Websites like Amazon Smile and eBay let you choose a charity you’re passionate about. The sites will automatically donate in your name each time you make a purchase on their websites. Some stores, like Rite Aid, will let you auto-donate in stores too, by automatically rounding your change to the nearest dollar. In fact, even couponing site Ebates will even let you allot cash back earned doing your Christmas shopping to a charity. Many banks offer this too, and some banks and employers will match the donations you make for double contributions. Those pennies can really add up!
Yes, the holidays are a time for exchanging presents but some unwelcome gifts left by visitors may include the flu and common cold. The medical community really comes out in force around the holidays, offering free vaccines and holding blood drives before the rough winter season. If you’re a student in health professions, get some of those hard-to-come-by clinical hours out of the way and do some good by volunteering in a blood bank or with your local health department.
This major has one job: to get the word out and develop a better bottom line for businesses. Christmas may be a great time of year for big businesses but we sometimes forget that following Black Friday is Small Business Saturday, a time to support the family-owned restaurants and stores that make our region great. Marketing majors can offer to help their township boards develop signage or a social media presence to boost small shop sales. If that’s too big a challenge, offer to help your favorite mom and pop shop up their holiday business strategically. Have a favorite local restaurant you frequent that could use a little exposure? Offer your services. It will make for an awesome portfolio piece and the business might just give you a seat at the special table.
Your mission this season is simple. Get creative and use the skills you’re learning at Rowan to better someone else’s life over the holidays. Robert Ingersoll famously said, “We rise by lifting others.” Lift someone this holiday season, Profs.
How do you give back during the holidays? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.
By: Bianca Blando